Understanding annual leave entitlements

Amie Doran

June 30 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown has been tough on individuals and businesses alike. Thankfully however, most businesses have reopened in Phase 3 of the Roadmap, bringing some normality back into our lives.  

Some businesses were lucky enough to go unaffected and continue trading through lockdown. As a result, those same businesses may have difficulty with excess employee annual leave entitlements in the second half of the year. If these entitlements aren’t handled correctly, they could cause problems down the line…

Workforce planning

It goes without saying that your schedule will be jam-packed upon reopening. That’s why it’s important to factor annual leave into your workforce planning activities to ensure sufficient staff resources are available to you. Furthermore, you need to ensure you comply with working time rules. 

Is annual leave accruing?

The first thing you need to confirm is if annual leave is accruing. If you’ve had to lay-off staff temporarily, these employees will not accrue annual leave while they’re not working.

However, it’s important to remember that if employees complete 1,365 hours of work during the leave year despite being laid off, they remain entitled to four weeks’ paid annual leave.

You may also have staff receiving payment through the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. But don’t forget that if they’re not working, they don’t accrue statutory annual leave.

The Organisation of Working Time Act

Ireland’s working time legislation entitles all employees to 20 days’ paid annual leave during any given leave year.

Under Section 20 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, businesses, by law, can decide when employees take their annual leave.

In doing so, you must account for work requirements and consider:

  • The need for the employee to reconcile work and any family responsibilities.
  • The opportunities for rest and recreation available to the employee.

Any business, including yours, which intends to rely on Section 20 to ask employees to take their annual leave, must consult with the employees in question no later than one month before the start of the proposed period of annual leave.

Of course, complying with the terms of the legislation (particularly the employee’s right to adequate rest and recreation) could prove difficult given the current situation. However, Section 20 could nonetheless prove to be a useful statutory right to lean on as part of your workforce planning efforts.

Need our help?

If you would like further complimentary advice on annual leave from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 1890 252 923 or request a callback here.

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